Deploying collaborative artistic co-creative methods to strategically promote eco-social regeneration for small island communities

  • Laura Donkers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Art can help us to comprehend, through our sentient bodies and in our cognitive capacities, how to live well together at a time of increasing social isolation, climate crisis and growing alienation from our place in the ecological system. Art-related activities can be featured as ways of embedding knowledge that is deeply connected to everyday life precisely within and bound to our immediate environment. This transformative approach is achieved through art by drawing our attention to how we live together with each other, and our non-human companions, in our communities.

At a time of crisis, this practice-led thesis presents how collaborative and co-creative eco-social art practices can contribute to ecological and social regeneration within communities. It addresses three specific questions: How can co-creative artistic approaches help to develop strategic promotion of eco-social sustainability? How can this knowledge be deployed for the benefit of the community and organisations concerned with climate change? How can a community’s embodied knowledge contribute to generating an environmentally sustainable future?

This research considers the performative and participatory elements of artists practices that involve others (communities, as well as policy makers, community organisations, national bodies) in discourse and activity on eco-social regeneration. It begins by exploring the agency of ecological and social embeddedness and presents ways to develop the practice and identity of environmental artists who work in community settings. It goes on to show, through project design and activity, and through the development of a ‘listening paradigm’ that ‘island communities’ embodied knowledge’ can contribute a valuable legacy to community projects addressing climate change. Consequently, by shifting understanding of this under-valued knowledge, new approaches can be suggested to the work of organisations and practitioners tasked with delivering climate change initiatives that enable more effective eco-social engagements with their communities.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsScottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities & Arts & Humanities Research Council
SupervisorMary Modeen (Supervisor), Iain Biggs (Supervisor) & Calum Colvin (Supervisor)


  • Eco-social art,
  • Embodied knowledge
  • Listening paradigm
  • Island communities

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